by Katherine Demacopoulos
Teenagers have more activities competing for their attention and time than in any previous generation. Sports teams are expecting year-round commitments along with extra training if the student athletes want to stay competitive with their peers. The pressure to attend the best college possible or secure academic scholarships, means that students are loading up on difficult homework-intensive classes (sometimes even opting out of lunch so they can fit in more academic subjects) while also finding time to serve in leadership positions in clubs. Activities like Driver’s Ed and SAT / ACT classes need to be squeezed in somewhere. This is also happening at a time when these teenagers are bombarded by constant reminders on social media that “while you were out with one group of friends, another group of friends had a fantastic time doing something else…without you.”
It’s not surprising that anxiety levels have been on the rise. In a recent study by the National Survey of Children’s Health, researchers found a 20 percent increase in diagnoses of anxiety between 2007 and 2012.
In this type of environment, I know it is a struggle just to carve out the time to bring your teenagers to church and to make them attend. Most families are bringing their children to church less often than they had been brought to church when they were the same age their children are now.
But we need to avoid the temptation to excuse ourselves. Continue reading
by Catherine Andreadis
This special youth submission was originally a speech delivered at the 2018 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival hosted by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The speech was delivered in response to the prompt: “Christ said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). The Lord said this with reference to the way we hear the word of God. What is our response?”
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Obviously, it is quite easy to identify the source of irony in this quote: We all have ears don’t we? So we should all be able to hear the word of God. This is often on the contrary, as today more so than ever it is harder to hear and revel in God’s word cogently. In order for us to be able to soak in Jesus’ teachings to the same extent as devout followers were able to thousands of years ago, we must be all the more aware and committed. We live in a world full of seemingly endless knowledge and opinions that have the potential to distract us from God’s simple message, while in Christ’s time, there was a seemingly definite wrong and right (in other words, the existence of a gray zone was negligible). It is harder for us to hear God’s word with the same conviction because our minds are so cluttered with the noise of physical society. That’s not to say that knowledge is bad—much of human discovery has allowed us to understand the world more complexly—but we have to change the way we think and hear the word of God in order for it to resonate with us.
God’s word is universal, both in its meaning and its adaptability, which has allowed for its longevity. Continue Reading…